This is part two, and the final, part of my review of Authentic History Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1877 by Susan Lawrence Davis. I’ll focus on various facts (according to Mrs. Davis) and the Klan’s relationship to various ethnic groups.
Here’s how it all got started (pg. 7 and 8):
On December 24, 1865, at Pulaski, Tennessee, there assembled in a small brick building, the law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones, six young men who were soldiers in the Confederate States Army. They had lost all their property, there were no business prospects for them at the time ; it was Christmas Eve and their town was saddened not only by the wreckage of Civil War, but by the visitation of a cyclone which had killed and injured many of its inhabitants and destroyed many homes; yet, the spirit of youth could not be conquered in their heroic hearts. One of these young men, Captain John C. Lester, said: “Boys, let’s start something to break this monotony, and to cheer up our mothers and the girls. Let’s start a club of some kind.” The evening was spent in obtaining their object — diversion and amusement. Two committees were appointed to select a name and to prepare a set of rules for the government of the order and the initiation of future members. They then adjourned to meet the following week…
James R. Crowe suggested to make it more mysterious, that a costume be adopted. They then made a raid upon Mrs. Martin’s linen closet and robed themselves with boyish glee in her stiff linen sheets and pillow-cases, as masquerading was a popular form of entertainment in those days. Wishing to make an impression they borrowed some horses from a near-by stable and disguised them with sheets. They then mounted and rode through the darkness, calling at the homes of their mothers and sweethearts, without speaking a word. They rode slowly through the streets of Pulaski waving to the people and making grotesque gestures, which created merriment to the unsuperstitious, and to the superstitious, great fear.
Regarding the origin of the name “Ku Klux Klan,” we find (pg. 7):
During the evening the organization was perfected.Captain John B. Kennedy, on the committee to select a name mentioned one which he had considered, “Kukloi,” from the Greek word “Kuklos,” meaning a band or circle. James R. Crowe said “Call it Ku Klux,” and no one will know what it means. John C. Lester said: “Add Klan as we are all Scotch-Irish descent.”
He then repeated the words: “Ku Klux Klan,” the first time these words ever fell from human tongue. The weirdness of the alliteration appealed to the mysterious within them ; so the name was adopted with a feeling that they had chosen something which would excite the curiosity of their friends and carry out their idea of amusement, which, most unexpectedly to them, proved a boon to Pulaski and the South.
As stated in part one of this review, one of the primary goals the Ku Klux Klan took upon itself was to fight crime, as the Reconstruction government would not, or could not, do this adequately. Over and over again, we’re told that the Klan was there to ensure the safety of law-abiding citizens:
These circumstances convinced them that the measures inaugurated for sport only could be used to protect the lives and property of the people of the stricken South (pg. 15).
“To protect the weak, the innocent, the defenseless, from the indignities, wrongs and outrages of the lawless, the violent and the brutal; to relieve the injured and oppressed, succor the suffering; especially the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers (pg. 88).
It is, essentially, originally and inherently a protective organization. It proposes to execute law instead of resisting it; and to protect all good men, whether white or black, from the outrages and atrocities of bad men of both colors, who have been for the past three years a terror to society, and an injury to us all (pg. 106).
Peaceable law-abiding negroes were often attacked by these bands of Tories and carpet-baggers, and the Ku Klux Klan went to their aid each time, taking with them the faithful negroes to aid them in the cause of justice, as Judge H. C. Jones did on one occasion, when with two pistols, and the assistance of his former slave, Emery Jones, he went to the rescue of a negro family named Poole, near Florence, Alabama, who had been cruelly attacked by Tom Clark’s band (pg. 152).
Answer: “According to my understanding, the organization was intended entirely as a protection to the people, to enforce the laws, and protect the people against outrages.”
Question: “Without regard to whether they were perpetrated by democrats or republicans?”
Answer: “Yes, sir, I do not think that would make any difference” (pg. 166).
Since it was primarily white Southerners who were targeted by Reconstruction, this was a priority:
… the Ku Klux Klan, whose very motive and act proclaimed: “Out of this nettle danger, we pluck this flower, Safety!”; safety for the white race, safety for separation of Church and State, safety for Civilization in saving our Republican form of government (pg. 310).
Though this is not directly related to the Ku Klux Klan itself, I’ll point out that what we refer to today as “Fort Sumter” is consistently spelled “Fort Sumpter” in this book. If it were only once or twice, I would have dismissed it as a typo, but since it’s consistently spelled that way, I believe that this spelling is based on a long-standing tradition. I did some research, and the vast majority of sources use the spelling “Sumter” as it’s spelled today. However, here’s one from some time in the 1860s that has it as “Sumpter (courtesy Battlefields.org):”
What was the Ku Klux Klan’s opinion of Jews? Would they have lynched us on sight? Unlikely, considering the following:
In 1867 Bishop Richard H. Wilmer, who was a close friend of General Morgan, the Second Dragon of the Realm of Alabama, went to England and there he saw Judah P. Benjamin who had been a member of the Confederate States Cabinet.
Among other things he told him of the Ku Klux Klan and the power it was exerting, and the necessity for keeping up the ghostly idea that the negroes might be controlled, and told him of the scarcity of suitable dry-goods and horses for the use of the Ku Klux Klan.
Mr. Benjamin’s interest in the Ku Klux Klan was so aroused that he borrowed money and gave it to Bishop Wilmer to buy horses, saddles, fire-arms, and other necessities for the Ku Klux Klan.
Several years after the work of the Ku Klux Klan had been completed, a fund was raised by the women of the South, by festivals, oyster-suppers, charades and other entertainments, that this money might be returned to Mr. Benjamin. I helped to raise this money. Mr. Judah P. Benjamin was a Jew, born in 1812…
He was a lawyer in New Orleans, La., when he was elected to the United States Senate, where Mr. Jefferson Davis met him and of whom he said “Mr. Benjamin had very high reputation as a lawyer and my acquaintance with him in the Senate impressed me with the lucidity of his intellect, his systematic habits, and capacity for labor. He was, therefore, invited to the post of Attorney General in the cabinet of the Confederate States of America.” He was later made Secretary of War, then Secretary of State—and served to the end of the Confederacy, and was with Jefferson Davis when they crossed the Savannah River, after the night march from Abbeville, S. C, after the fall of the Confederacy (pg. 45-47).
What about the negro? Would the Ku Klux Klan randomly target blacks for lynching based solely upon their skin-color? Aside from the fact that it would have been an enormous undertaking, considering the vast black population of the South at the time, there is no indication that this was a policy, nor would there be any reason for the Ku Klux Klan to behave in this way; it would have accomplished nothing – except to provoke even more violence against the whites of the South. What the Ku Klux Klan wanted was for the negro to obey the law, be productive citizens, maintain a politically subservient position to the white man and, above all, to stay away from white women.
In hindsight this position makes a lot of sense. Let us not forget that most Southern blacks had only recently been freed from slavery; they lacked the education necessary to provide any meaningful contribution to political life – except as pawns to the Republican Party and its carpet-bagger cronies. What does it mean to vote? We often hear leftist talking head wondering out loud, and ridiculing conservatives who “vote against their own self-interests.” The assumption seems to be that each American is expected to vote in such a way that will benefit his own pocket book. This is not how the Founding Fathers envisioned voting, and I’ll quote Samuel Adams:
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.
From this perspective, it’s an insult to our republic to grant voting rights to a population whose only (political) purpose would be to further oppress a conquered people. It was clear as day that the negro vote would not be an expression of “accountability to God and country,” but merely a tool of military occupation.
I’m not convinced that the average Southern white (at least at the time this book was written) believed in any biological inferiority of the negro race. If we’re to judge from this book, it would appear that they were viewed as people who were subject to their own historical legacy, stunted in their maturity by heritage rather than genes.
The negro race had been the only one in the world’s history to hold an entire continent against the invasion of civilization and to maintain barbarism for centuries. The Moors and Egyptians had tried to conquer Africa from the North. The Asiatics had tried to enter it from the East, and other European Nations had assailed it with their power but had failed to penetrate the “dark continent.”
This was the fierce battle the negroes had fought in Africa to keep out civilization, but were finally captured and sold into slavery into this country* They then began to be developed and converted to civilization and Christianity.
In the Northern part of the United States the climate was so severe, coming as they did from tropical regions, their labor was not very profitable, the winters being so long and cold and they suffered intensely with the cold and many of them died and their children were becoming less enabled to stand the severe climate.
In the southern part of the United States the climate agreed with the negroes, and cotton raising and other outdoor work was better suited to his capacity than the work in the North where he was expected to do skilled labor for which his mind had not become fitted. Finding the ownership of them unprofitable, the northern people sold their slaves to the slave owners of the southern states (pg. 192 and 193).
I don’t think Southern whites would have ever allowed their children to be subject to integration with blacks in education, nor would they ever have legalized miscegenation – but they were definitely resigned to the fact that slavery was gone for good.
There was a special fondness for the “good negroes,” the ones who remained faithful to their former masters, and even protected the white women and children when the men were off fighting.
General Gordon referred to a speech he made in Montgomery, Alabama, in which he spoke of the behavior of the negroes during the war when left to
protect the women and children; when all the male population were away fighting and large plantations were left to be managed by the women not a single insurrection had occurred, not a life had been taken, not a criminal assault had been made upon any white woman by the negroes, although the Federal Army was inciting them to turn against their masters, and the helpless women and children.
This handsome behavior of the negroes was also praised at this time by General James H. Clanton, of Alabama, and in reward for it we both said the Southern people owed it to the negroes to educate them and give them a chance to rise within the confines of their race. Many negroes heard both speeches and came forward and thanked us.
The entire heart of Georgia and the South appreciates the conduct of the negroes during the war (pg. 226).
“We never had any apprehension from the conduct of the negroes until unscrupulous men came among them and tried to stir up strife. But for such men we never would have had any trouble with the negro and would not have any now. We can get along forever with the negro, loving him and having him love us, if you will take away these Carpet-baggers.
“I am willing to swear until I am gray that the negroes and the white people can live together in Georgia peaceably and happily if they are not interfered with (pg. 223).
In other words, southern whites, including the Ku Klux Klan, viewed the “good negroes” pretty much as children. It’s easy to see how this would be insulting to many blacks; I know I wouldn’t appreciate it. But I can tell you, from personal experience, that there is justification in this view. You see, I was a child myself.
No, I’m not referring to the period of my life when I was legally a minor. Rather I’m referring to the period in my life directly after my stay in Israel. I had lived there for several years, and I was part of a community that leached off the socialist system. For this population, gaming the system was a way of life. Even when done in a perfectly legal way, it promotes a childish mentality where the State is the parent, and the individual is a perpetual child. This hold true even for those who work for a living.
It took me several years to grow out of this childish mentality, and to take ownership of my own needs and responsibilities – to become AMERICAN again.
Imagine being a slave from birth, born of slaves who were also the children of slaves. To give the vote to such people is extremely irresponsible. As a matter of fact, it’s irresponsible to simply grant them their freedom, and then throw them into the wild, and expect them to somehow figure it all out. This was a disaster that any intelligent person could have foreseen.
When Mr. Gray was asked about the negro, he said: “The negroes are in a very unsettled, restless condition and should be put to work. They have no idea of the expense of living” (pg. 206).
When viewing historical movies about the Old South, reading history books or attending history class in school, let us remember who the victors were, and that history is written by the victors. Let us take these accounts with a grain of salt, and maintain a healthy skepticism.
We can observe how the Establishment Left behaves today, and extrapolate from it into the past. I believe that there’s a strong parallel between the way the Establishment Left portrays the Proud Boys today, and the way they portray the Ku Klux Klan of the past. Both organizations fought for the survival of Western civilization and law and order. Both provided push-back against radicals who would destroy both. Both organizations were large enough to contain some members of dubious character. Both organizations have been stereotyped and caricatured as simplistic hateful bigots who would commit violence based upon nothing more than skin-color. I have seen the Proud Boys in action, and I even attended one of their rallies – so I know that they are neither hateful, nor violent, nor bigoted. Without compelling evidence to the contrary, I would say the same about the original Ku Klux Klan…
… and that brings me to my next point. The book emphasizes that there were organizations, and even criminal gangs, who would masquerade as Ku Kluxes as they committed atrocities.
Among the men who were arrested and tried were members of the spurious Ku Klux Klan which had been formed by the “Loyal League” at Washington to foment trouble in the South. When these counterfeit Ku Klux were tried, as in the case of those prosecuted by Captain William Richardson at Huntsville, Ala., when he was employed by the real Ku Klux Klan, and obtained convictions of these men, the Federal authorities immediately freed them.
Many other citizens who were not members of the Ku Klux Klan were arrested, convicted and sent to the Federal prison.
Thirteen individuals of these spurious Ku Klux Klaus were convicted in Alabama, and one pleaded guilty (pg. 145 and 146).
This testimony given by Captain Coleman regarding these counterfeit Ku Klux Klans which were sent from the North to create the disturbances, harass and annoy the people into deeds of retaliation, was typical of the conditions throughout the South ; and the subcommittee soon found that the laws passed against the real Ku Klux Klan were operating against the agents of the government who had been sent for that purpose.
The people of the South were beset by these bands of marauders within their own borders, by deserters from the Confederate Army, by men who had to be drafted into the Confederate Army, by men taking advantage of the Ku Klux Klan disguise, by the Federal authorities’ inability to cope with the situation, and by the actual attitude of the government at Washington who were plotting and scheming to keep the South in a state of war for at least thirty years (pg. 150).
Another instance of the injustice of these trials was the case of bogus Ku Klux being prosecuted and convicted by Captain William Richardson, at Huntsville, Alabama, and they were immediately discharged by the Federal authorities, when it was learned that they were “carpet-baggers (pg. 163).”
The object of these meetings was to devise means to hold the order itself in check, and also to find ways of detecting and apprehending the men sent South by the spurious Ku Klux Klan, for the purpose of fomenting ill will between the negroes and white people of the South (pg 190).
We see these accusations over and over, and it occurred to me that criminal gangs, or political agitators, would certainly have taken advantage of the popularity of the Klan to disguise themselves as such, and do as they pleased. How could this NOT have been the case?
And yet, it’s doubtful that any public school students today are told of this. Do any Hollywood movies contain a scene were criminals masquerade as Klansmen to do their evil deeds? Are there any authorized history books that portray Klansmen in a sympathetic light, or even as real human beings at all? Do any of the official narratives ever even address the concerns that led to Ku Klux Klan activities? If there are, then they are few and far between.